Published On: Wed, Mar 8th, 2017

Flight Review: Delta Air Lines From Atlanta to Frankfurt

Delta Air Lines touch screen displaying the Atlanta to Frankfurt route. (photo by Jason Leppert)

After last flying business class internationally, one might think an economy class flight from Atlanta, Georgia to Frankfurt, Germany would be brutal.

Thanks to Delta Air Lines, it was not. In fact, Delta and SkyTeam, in general, are my preferred set of global carriers, and this route proved consistent with my previous experiences.

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Check In/Security (9/10)

For my latest cruise travels, I needed to disembark Carnival Cruise Line’s newest Carnival Vista and immediately fly from Miami to Frankfurt to join Viking River Cruises’ Viking Hild Longship for its 2017 christening ceremony. That meant my app check-in actually occurred in Florida before arriving in Atlanta for the international connection.

As I have Premium status in the Delta SkyMiles loyalty program, I had access to the convenient SkyPriority lane where there was no wait to check my bag and be on my way.

While I dislike the Miami International Airport overall, I was at least able to take advantage of my full TSA Precheck privileges, something that has annoyingly not always been available there. Only a moderate delay to secondarily screen my electronic-heavy carryon was a hindrance this time around.

Meanwhile, once to Atlanta, I was already fully cleared and good to go internationally. I only had to quickly transfer from terminal A to terminal E prior to departure.

Terminals (8/10)

Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport is not a particularly attractive facility—it’s rather utilitarian with long boxy buildings servicing gobs of gates. While always busy, it’s easy enough to navigate. At concourse E, I was able to spend some time in the central Delta Sky Club. Even without a first class ticket, my Premium membership thankfully gets me lounge access on international routes.

The club space is not nearly as large as at other airports, which makes it rather crowded with passengers. But the food offerings—including grilled chicken, pasta salad, cheese cubes and a fresh lemonade to wash it all down—were quite nice as a complimentary meal prior to takeoff.

READ MORE: Flight Review: Lufthansa From Munich to San Francisco

Once in Frankfurt, the arrival gate was not far from passport control and the baggage claim, and I only had to wait maybe a half hour or so in line to make it to the carousel where my priority-labeled bag was already waiting for me. Based on the ease of access, I am happy to soon return to the airport and head back stateside.

Seats/Space (7/10)

This route’s aircraft was an older Boeing 767-400ER, and I opted to switch from Delta Comfort+ to regular economy for the chance to have a center section of three seats all to myself. (I recommend checking the seat map frequently to find such last-minute opportunities.)

Space was thus ample horizontally but typically tight between aisles.

I was still able to open my 13-inch Apple MacBook all the way until the person in front of me decided to recline swiftly, nearly crushing my screen in the process and ignoring my plea to wait a moment for me to move out of the way. At least I was able to relocate to the center seat to open it fully again and get a lot of work done on the 9-hour flight.

Here’s a friendly tip: if you’re going to recline, please do so slowly. The person behind you will thank you.

One seat curiosity was the lack of any USB or electrical outlets for charging during the flight; the aircraft has not yet been upgraded yet. Similarly, the older-style center overhead bins were lacking in their ability to hold a roller-board lengthwise, but my bag thankfully did fit turned 90 degrees.

One nice thing on the older plane: Its individual airflow controls for each seat. Many newer, wide-body ones are eliminating such touches.

Amenities (8/10)

Entertainment options consisted of previous-generation, beige-framed touch screens of around 7 inches in diagonal size. The digital interface has been updated, but the touch sensitivity is still poor on these units and the flight tracker is the older version as well.

The movie selection consisted of some fresher films but did not quite have the same breadth of new releases as my proceeding domestic flight with newer equipment.

READ MORE: Flight Review: British Airways From San Diego to London

While not quite to the level of business class cuisine, the onboard food was also rather good even though the choices were chicken and pasta (after just having both in the lounge).

Still, the cheese ravioli in tomato sauce was tasty as was the pita and hummus dip with veggies, side salad, crackers, bread roll with butter, Tillamook cheddar cheese and chocolate fudge brownie. Internationally, it’s nice to get a free meal in addition to included wines and beers besides soft drinks. I enjoyed a nice Extra Pale Ale from Atlanta’s SweetWater Brewing Company accordingly.

A small Minute Maid orange juice cup and breakfast box before landing—consisting of a yummy bagel, orange marmalade cream spread, Tillamook Colby cheese and a honey yogurt—were also nice additions. Of course, a morning coffee was also what the doctor ordered.

Service (9/10)

Delta flight crews are always excellent, and the onboard service continued this trend.

Stewards were very attentive and friendly; they were wonderful at regularly passing out larger 16.9-ounce Dasani water bottles during the flight. I was pleased that warm towels were also provided to freshen up with.

The laptop-crushing passenger in front of me was also, unfortunately, traveling with a screaming child that made for unpleasant moments, but I must say the Delta team was great with the young boy. I only wish they had been a little more keen to quiet him down for the rest of our sakes.

I also liked that the captain commented on liking my New Orleans shirt upon exiting the plane.

Overall (41/50)

Despite a few hiccups here and there during my flight, Delta remains my preferred carrier, especially considering the domestic competition pales in comparison, in my opinion. As I will be retracing the route (in reverse) in just a few days, I look forward to again experiencing the Delta difference.

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